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Man sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexual assault of teen

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WAILUKU » A Maui man accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl who gave birth to his child has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Thirty-three-year-old Bendura Barnabas, of Kula, was sentenced Thursday to consecutive prison sentences totaling two decades. He previously pleaded no contest to two counts of sexual assault, the Maui News reports.

Deputy Prosecutor Iwalani Gasmen argued that Barnabas repeatedly forced the child to have sex with him, abusing her psychologically and emotionally.

"Between the ages of 12 and 14, she had to endure what no other child should have to," Gasmen said. "It was not uncommon for the defendant to rip her underwear and pants up, cutting holes in her clothes with scissors while she was sleeping."

The girl was 14 when she became pregnant, and was then placed in protective custody by Child Welfare Services.

"The criminal act occurred on one date, but the indisputable evidence became a reality nine months later," said 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill. "The defendant cannot claim in any way, shape or form that this did not occur. He is the father."

Barnabas’ attorney, Wendy Hudson, said her client’s "inappropriate behavior" was related to his drinking problem and lack of a formal education.

Barnabas apologized in court Thursday to the victim and asked to be sentenced to probation.

"If there is a chance I can be released or be out there, I want to have an opportunity to show my family that I am a changed man," Barnabas said through a Pohnpeian interpreter.

But the judge said Barnabas’ punishment needs to send the right message to the community.

"The signal must go out that this type of conduct and behavior will have serious consequences," Cahill said. "The community needs to understand that there has to be a severe and significant consequence when this type of sexual criminal activity occurs."

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